What babies and tornadoes have in common

‘Tis the season for tornadoes in Memphis, Tennessee, that time of year where we don our rain boots and do our best to “Respect the Polygon.” It’s a part of life around here, both natural and a bit unsettling at times... ...kind of like having a baby.

Stay with me here. While having a baby isn’t terrifying or devastating in the way a tornado can be, they do have a lot in common.

tornadoes, babies

Tornadoes are unpredictable

While most tornadoes follow a pattern from southwest to northeast, we can never know exactly which course they will take, how strong they will be, or what they will leave in their wake. Giving birth is similar. While most labors follow a general pattern, there is plenty of room for variation. Contractions speed up or slow down, labors stall and labors come on fast and furious. With labor comes periods of anticipation and watchful waiting. We can’t always trust that nothing will go wrong, but we can have great respect for the power behind birth. All of this is natural and normal, even in its unpredictability. You never know what kind of baby you have until they are here, and you never can be totally sure what they’ll do next. A baby who sleeps her newborn days away might all of a sudden decide sleeping isn’t her thing (don’t worry, we can help!). A routine that worked last week might need a complete overhaul as your baby hits a new milestone in his development.

Tornadoes can turn your world upside down

I’ve been fortunate to have been around tornadoes my whole life, but have never had firsthand experience with the life-altering devastation they can cause. Babies are blessings and don’t shake up our worlds in the same way tornadoes do, but one thing you can count on is that your whole life will be different. In the same way that a tornado doesn’t always pass over your city without incident, birth can sometimes be difficult and sometimes babies need extra help before they can go home. Perhaps a new baby at your home has affected your relationship with your spouse in ways you weren’t expecting. Maybe postpartum depression wasn’t part of the plan, but here you are, picking up the pieces with a little one in tow. Just as we reach out for help in the face of natural disasters outside our control, it’s important to remember that if things don’t go as planned, it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to see your therapist, to call your doctor, to reach out to friends and family who care about you! If you don’t know where to go, ask your doula for help and she’ll connect you with a referral to get the help you need.

You can prepare for tornadoes and you can prepare for babies

In the same way that we create safe spaces and plans of action for when bad weather arises, we can create safe spaces and plans of action for when baby comes. Sure, a “go bag” has a different meaning when you’re talking about an outing with a newborn, but the concept is the same. By taking the time to think through your plan of action for birth and postpartum, you can be better prepared for whatever your own little tornado throws your way. Babies are unpredictable both in their arrival and their behavior, but we can still create safe spaces for ourselves. In addition to surrounding yourself with friends and family, a doula can help you navigate the unpredictably of birth and new parenthood and provide you with a soft place to land. We want to be there for you and help you the best we can as you stretch, grow, and gain confidence!